ASSIGINACK—If you spend any time at all talking to Manitowaning’s John Caselton you pick up pretty quickly that he is the very definition of a renaissance man—contractor, musician, entrepreneur and meticulous researcher—and when it comes to aquaculture, a man with his eyes set on a very practical (and profitable) endgame.
Last month, more than 300,000 Atlantic salmon escaped from their floating farm into the Salish Sea, off Washington state, stoking the flames of a long-running dispute over the use of open-net pens. The state has already put a moratorium on new licenses for pens, while in British Columbia, First Nations have occupied a salmon farm near Alert Bay, demanding the fish farm operations move onto land.
Cooke Aquaculture, the company that owns the floating mesh cages that broke in Washington, blames the failure on unusually high tides stressing older equipment. But open-net pens have long been maligned by environmentalists. Critics charge that using open-net pens to raise fish increases the risk of diseases and non-native species mingling with wild populations. Industry representatives say the pens are safe — a stance supported by research. But there are known problems, such as outbreaks of pathogens like sea lice.
But the recent events in Washington raise the question: is there a better way to farm fish?
Aquaculture is a huge industry. In 2014, for the first time, more than half of all seafood consumed by humans came from fish farms, with salmon among the most farmed species. But aquaculture is also contentious — in large part because of the problems with existing open-net pens.
Yet Jeremy Dunn, executive director of the BC Salmon Farmers Association, says the industry is already starting to move away from open-net pens. While Dunn says 90 per cent of new investment globally is in variations on the technology, leading salmon-farming countries such as Norway are investing in hitherto unfeasible technologies, such as land-based tanks and recirculating aquaculture systems.
More at Source: Is There a Better Way to Farm Fish? | The Tyee
Supporters of land-based fish farms said the escape of thousands of Atlantic salmon from Cooke Aquaculture’s ocean-based farm in Washington State on August 19 should spur Canada into supporting land-based aquaculture.